Speed Read: Collapse Paralyzes Cowboy Staffer

Over the past week, the sports world has gone from a sadly predictable near-tragedy to a shockingly real one. While most NASCAR fans and drivers could have told you that a scene like Carl Edwards’ car almost flying into the packed stands at Talladega was almost inevitable, no one could have predicted what happened during a freak windstorm at the team’s practice facility on Saturday afternoon: the entire thing collapsed, trapping players, coaches, staff and media inside.

Cowboys Dome Collapse

When first reports came out about the accident on Saturday, it looked like any major injuries had been avoided. But Sunday brought additional news, and most of it not good: the FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAPH says that scouting assistant Rich Behm has been paralyzed from the waist down as a result of the accident. Among the 11 other people who received medical attention, special teams coach Joe DeCamillis suffered a broken vertebra but somehow was not paralyzed, while assistant athletic trainer Greg Gaither has a broken right leg.

Cowboys offensive coordinator Jason Garrett

And as horrific as the situation was, it apparently could have even been worse, if eyewitness reports from players and media members who were there for a rookie minicamp (welcome to the league, rooks). Such as former kicker and fifth-round draft pick David Buehler, who wound up with a concussion and various cuts and scrapes.

“My initial thought was, how many people are dead in this?” Buehler said tonight. “I thought I was the lucky one.”

(It should be noted that Buehler became the kicker at USC after incumbent Mario Danelo was killed in a drunken fall from a cliff after the 2007 Rose Bowl, so he’s seen enough football-related tragedies for his lifetime.)

Somehow Buehler suffered the most severe injuries of the players (I guess that armor does help), and many of the players acted as rescuers immediately after the collapse. Two players might have helped save DALLAS MORNING NEWS reporter Todd Archer from further injury after he was pinned down by falling debris:

Then I saw two pairs of cleats near me and two blue jerseys, so I knew they were defensive players. Later, I was told it was cornerback DeAngelo Smith and linebacker Brandon Williams. Eatman said Williams pushed him out of the way so he could help get me out.

With whatever was on me raised a few inches, I was able to turn on my back and inch my way out. I remember seeing players hurdle over pieces of the wreckage to make sure their teammates – strangers to most of them just a week ago – were all right.

I ran into the team’s Valley Ranch complex. Blood trickled down my right elbow. My right shin had some road rash. My left knee was sore, and as the time went by, my left shoulder and right ribs became sore.

It all took about 25 seconds, but it seemed much longer. 

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones cut his trip to the Kentucky Derby short and returned Sunday morning to grimly look at the resulting carnage. As you could expect, OSHA is investigating; but while you might question the safety of having a 85,000 square-foot inflatable tent in an area hit by occasional huge thunderstorms, chances are this will be just an incredibly fluky situation that had tragic consequences.

Ducks vs Red Wings

Getting back to more positive news: I know it’s a cliche that there’s “nothing like playoff hockey,” and that’s a lie: mint chip ice cream is better than playoff hockey; finding “Caddyshack” on HBO at 3:30 a.m. when you can’t go sleep is right up there as well. But yesterday’s three-OT thriller between the Ducks and the Red Wings was a reminder: the Celtics vs. Bulls series had some great games, but no one does extra time like the NHL.

Why? Because of getting a set amount of time to complete a period, the end of an OT playoff game could come at any second, on a power play, shorthanded or completely against the run of play. It’s that “lightning in a bottle” moment that makes it so unique, and often times the game-winner comes from an unusual source.

On Sunday, that unlikely hero was Todd Marchant. The ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER says the third-oldest player on the team came through when it was needed, putting away a shot from the top of the face-off circle (after breaking up a Detroit rush) to give Anaheim a dramatic 4-3 three-OT road victory to level the series at 1-1.

Think about it: this game went three overtimes - and we’re not talking fake NBA five-minute OTs either, but honest-to-God 20-minute periods. Basically, the Ducks and the Red Wings played 2/3s of an extra game, but most casual fans are too jaded (and expect this every NHL playoff time) to appreciate it. Meanwhile, the Bulls and Celtics go three five-minute overtimes and everyone freaks out.

Tony Jackson

(Now-former Dodgers beat writer Tony Jackson, enjoying a power nap.)

Finally, in baseball news: for a fundamentally flawed team, the Dodgers sure do look pretty good. They beat San Diego 7-3 on Sunday, which the LOS ANGELES TIMES says is their franchise-record 10th straight home win to start the season. Not bad for a team that supposedly lacks the pitching depth to be a contender. Now if there was only more than one beat writer covering the team.

  • Take a deep breath, Red Sox fans: the BOSTON GLOBE say popular commentator and former second baseman Jerry Remy has Twittered (does everyone Twitter?) that he missed the four-game series with the Rays as a precaution, and should be back in the booth soon.
  • Jerry Remy

  • New York Islanders owner Charles Wang tells NEWSDAY that he “regrets” buying the team nine years later. I guess looking at putting $23 million a year into the team with no hope of a new arena in sight will do that to you. What’s the return policy on a broken NHL franchise, anyway?
  • Another week, another Tiger Woods final round falling flat. The NEW YORK TIMES says he shot a 72 on Sunday, finishing two shots back of winner Sean O’Hair at the Quail Hollow Championships in Charlotte, NC. Can we just revoke this bum’s Tour Card now?
  • The SOUTHTOWN STAR says that 19 players from the St. Rita baseball team in suburban Chicago were suspended from their game on Wednesday against De La Salle. Their crime? Stopping to get breakfast after a TV taping for WGN. It’s not their fault Waffle House is so deliciously tempting!
  • For anyone looking to get into the endless grind that is sports talk radio, JOURNALISM JOBS says the Jim Rome Show is looking for a writer. You’re telling me that his riffs aren’t all off the cuff? Rack him!!! Also valuable skills for the job: having a take, not sucking.
  • Former Arsenal and Barcelona soccer star Marc Overmars came out of retirement four years ago to help Go Ahead Eagles -  the club he started his career with and is currently director of - try to make the Dutch first division. After snapping his leg in a game this weekend, OFF THE POST says he probably wishes he had stayed in the boardroom:

  • Minnesota Vikings owner Zygi Wilf tells the ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS that he has “no comment” on rumors about Brett Favre coming to the team, but that “we’re always improving“. Translation: get ready for FavreWatch 2009 any day now.
  • No matter your personal political beliefs, we can all agree that anyone from Alaska is just too goofy to be near the Presidency. Case in point: the AP says that two people have won an annual betting contest and will split a jackpot of almost $284,000. What were they guessing? When the ice on the Tanana River would crack. Nope, no excess pork spending getting into the economy here.
  • While the Ducks and Red Wings were having a mini-marathon game yesterday afternoon, MLB.COM says the Mariners and A’s were doing the same thing, with Seattle gutting out an 8-7 win in 15 innings after having to rally from three runs down in the 13th to tie the score. These guys can’t possibly be for real, right?
  • The NEW YORK TIMES says that owners of Kentucky Derby-winner Mine That Bird will now “listen to the horse” to decide if it runs in the Preakness Stakes. Guys, I’m pretty sure the horse is going to answer no, or at least “neigh!” I’ll be here all week, folks!

Which “historic” sporting event is the most overhyped and overrated?

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Speed Read: Clippers Beat Celtics, Panic Ensues

I’m not going to suggest that the Boston Celtics weren’t completely focused last night, but…for God’s sake, they lost to the freakin’ Los Angeles Clippers! I know that they were without Kevin Garnett, and then Paul Pierce dislocated his thumb in the third quarter. And I know that the axiom that there are no easy road games in the NBA.

Zach Randolph

Except when you are playing the Los Angeles Clippers - I don’t care where you play them or what the circumstances are, that should be an “easy game” for any team. If they can’t beat the Clippers, then I guess we can eliminate the Celtics as legitimate NBA Finals contenders. We might as well go ahead and crown the Lakers…

Clippers vs Celtics

…who lost to Sacramento earlier this year, who actually somehow have managed to be worse this season than the Clippers. OK then, how about the Cavaliers?  What, they lost to Washington earlier this season? We’re going to wind up with the Spurs as champions again, aren’t we. The point is: it was a really, really bad loss, but no worse than any other team has during the course of a season. Let’s not freak out to much about it yet.

Nothing against Nolan Smith, but doesn’t anyone who isn’t a Duke fan feel good about seeing a Blue Devil get laid out by a vicious screen? Maryland’s Dave Neal was the one delivering the shot, flooring Smith and causing Mike Krzyzewski to fume. Smith had to be helped off the court but didn’t appear to be seriously injured, allowing us to enjoy our little moment of schadenfreude:

Of course, as the CHARLOTTE OBSERVER points out, that screen might have been the worst thing that could have happened to the Terrapins, as Duke’s Gerald Henderson came out of the ensuing time out as a man on a mission, scoring 11 of his 19 points in the game’s final 15 minutes and change afterward. Or, it could just be that Duke is a much better team than possibly NIT-bound Maryland; either way, Duke won 78-67.

Indiana Hoosiers

Meanwhile, this is how bad it’s gotten for Indiana: they were swept by Northwestern. The Wildcats did what would have seemed improbable going into this season, breaking a 35-game losing streak at Indiana on Wednesday with a 75-53 victory. Then again, even with a young, inexperienced team, thinking that Indiana would be 6-21 overall or 1-14 in the Big Ten would have been pretty loopy before the season started.

More sports news as you fire up your NES and decide whether to play “Wrestle Jam” as Randy “The Ram” Robinson or The Ayatollah:

  • Remember those Powerade commercials that had LeBron James sinking one full-court shot after another to the amazement of a local reporter. After watching this pre-game video found by BALL DON’T LIE of King James swishing a more than half-court shot - underhanded- I’m starting to wonder how much editing trickery was used:

  • Congratulations to Connecticut coach Jim Calhoun for notching his 800th career victory, a 93-82 victory over Marquette. Go buy yourself something nice and extravagent, and make sure you send the receipt to that idiot writer.
  • Further proof that Alex Rodriguez just doesn’t get it: FOX SPORTS says that after hitting a home run in his first Spring Training game, he left the stadium in an SUV … with his cousin Yuri Sucart, the same cousin who was allegedly his steroid supplier.
  • Updating a story about 82-year-old former professional wrestling star Verne Gagne allegedly killing his assisted-living center roommate, the AP says a coroner in Minnesota has ruled the death a homicide.
  • REUTERS says Australian swimmer Nick D’Arcy - pulled from the Olympic team after allegedly caving in another athlete’s face during a barroom brawl while celebrating making the team - will have to wait another month to learn his fate.
  • I know it’s from the Celebrity Game during All-Star Weekend, so it’s a little bit old, but seeing ESPN’s Jon Barry bite this hard on the old Harlem Globetrotters “Confetti in the Bucket” trick is worth it. Didn’t he ever watch the Globetrotters on “Wide World of Sports” as a kid?:

  • Another day, another investment scam impacting sports. This time NEWSDAY reports that two former New York Islanders executives have been arrested and charged with “with misappropriating more than $500 million in client investments, including tens of millions allegedly taken for things like expensive stallions and pricey Teddy bears.”
  • More news in the slow, inevitable slog towards Manny Ramirez finally signing with the Los Angeles Dodgers:  the LA TIMES reports that the team has made him a two-year, $45 million offer that he could respond to as early as today.
  • CANES COUNTRY has another sign that either newspapers are dying or economy is falling through a well (or both): the News & Observer has decided to not send reporters to Carolina Hurricanes away games, likely for the rest of the season and possibly beyond.
  • The PALM BEACH POST reports that Michael Jordan and his 30-year-old paramour, Cuban model Yvette Prieto, are moving in together in a house in suburban Miami. Michael: if you find Charlie Sheen coming out of your house at odd hours of the night, you have bigger things to worry about than your underwear.
  • Yvette Prieto and Michael Jordan

Other than Indiana, which former big-time college basketball program has fallen the farthest this season?

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Topless Alt Sues The Pants Off Of Ex-NHL Player

Who is the First Lady of Hockey? If you said Penguins center Cindy Crosby, I like the way you think, but no. It’s probably superstar puck bunny and supermodel Carol Alt. Yesterday Alt lost a $1 million lawsuit against her ex-husband, former NHL’er Ron Greschner.

Carol Alt

Alt, who will appear in the December issue of Playboy, was seeking the money from her husband of 18 years for shares in a business investment, which she said belonged to her because she let him handle her finances. A Manhattan District Court ruled that she was entitled to $168,000, but that the statute of limitations had run out.

Now I ain’t sayin’ she’s a gold digger, but she ain’t messin’ wit no (QMJHL team Drummondville) Voltiguers.
Read more…

Brog: Our ‘Deadspin Nation’ Does Stimulus Checks

Mark McGuire of the ALBANY TIMES-UNION has this line today about the curious celebrity of Anna Kournikova: “Kournikova’s career remains a prominent example of how sports, sex and celebrity congeal into the oleo that is entertainment in Deadspin Nation.

Will Leitch, Feerless Leader Of Deadspin Nation

(Forget cheese, in Deadspin Nation, it’s all about free government mustard)

I know, there’s nothing more scintillating than a rehash of Kournikova’s breast size pseudo celebrity (Mark, 2001 called, they want their XM radio back.)

More interesting is that’s the first time I’ve seen or heard a main media member use the phrase “Deadspin Nation.” Actually, that’s the first I’ve heard of it altogether (tho I’m sure Shanoff’s already got it copyrighted and trademarked).

So what does a Deadspin Nation entail? I’m not really sure, besides of course Mattoon adding “The Home Of Will Leitch!” to the city’s interstate welcome sign, Buzz Bissinger being fitted for a monitoring anklet, and Ron Zook manning central command of Operation Iraqi Freedom (”you’re doing a great job, Zookie Zooker!“).

Additionally, you can count on the Executive Branch of Deadspin Nation being quartered here.

Tom Hoffarth of the L.A. DAILY NEWS reports that ESPN Radio in L.A. (KSPN-AM) is already trying to buy out the contract of afternoon host Dave Dameshek. As some of you may know, I appeared often on the show Dameshek replaced eight months ago, which featured longtime SoCal sports radio mainstays Steve Mason and John Ireland. When Dameshek was brought on last year, KSPN let Ireland go and moved Mason to middays.

John Ireland and SbB Girls at ESPN Radio in Los Angeles

(SoCal sports guy John Ireland is back on KSPN-AM with Steve Mason)

Dameshek’s show, according to Hoffarth, lost half of Mason & Ireland’s audience in the Arbitron Ratings in mere months. So KSPN officials have brought Ireland back and reunited him with Mason on a midday show - and are in the process of attempting to part ways with Dameshek, who has $400,000 in ESPN commits left on the final two years of his deal.

World’s most irrelevant jobs:

1) Construction site security guard
2) TSA liquid carry-on enforcement official
3) Budget controller, California State Legislature
4) Baltimore Orioles beat reporter

Orioles Grounds Crew Member running

(Run, Forest, Run!)

You know the latter is bad when the highlight of your 2008 season reporting is a piece about a grounds crew member. Thanks Pete! Read more…

How Bad Are The Maple Leafs? Bad, Really Bad.

Even though the Toronto Maple Leafs beat the New York Islanders 3-1 on Tuesday night, that one goal occurred in the first period when … when … aw, just watch.


That, my friends, is what you call a 176-foot stroke of luck. Rob Davison’s slapshot somehow confused goalie Vesa Toskala to give the Isles a 1-0 lead. Read more…

Final Event At Old Yankee Stadium An NHL Game?

The NEW YORK DAILY NEWS reports that momentum is building for an NHL game to be played at Yankee Stadium next winter, which would likely be the final event held at the ballpark before the Yanks move across the street to their new digs in 2009.

Yankee Stadium As Hockey Rink

All indications are that the Yankees are intrigued by the idea, no doubt spurred on by the big success in Buffalo on New Year’s Day, and have reportedly met with NHL officials about the possibility.

But now the question is, which two of the three New York-area teams would play in the game?

Read more…

Simon Says He’s Seeking Counseling After Stomp

ISLES’ SIMON TAKING TIME OFF AFTER SAT. SKATE STOMP: After stomping on the foot of an opposing player, hockey goon Chris Simon is going to take a little time off:

Chris Simon Islanders

The NEW YORK TIMES reports that the Islanders forward is taking a paid leave of absence in order to undergo counseling, according to team owner Charles Wang.

During Saturday’s game against Pittsburgh, Simon was heading to the bench, when he snuck up on the Penguins’ Jarkko Ruuttu and stomped his skate on the player’s foot:


It’s not even the first time this year Chris has attempted injury on the ice. Back in March, Simon was suspended 25 games for hitting the Rangers’ Ryan Hollweg in the face with his stick:


Simon has already been suspended six times in his NHL career, with #7 likely coming on Tuesday. When asked why Simon hasn’t been shipped out, coach Ted Nolan responded, “The easiest thing to do is to make the problem go away. We’re much more compassionate than that.”

Plus, they don’t want Simon showing up at Nassau Coliseum in another team’s jersey, looking for revenge.

New York Islanders Broadcasting Games in Chinese

HOW WOULD YOU SAY ‘GOING FIVE HOLE’ IN MANDARIN?: The New York Islanders are hoping to cast their nets and snag some new international fans, as the team has been trying out broadcasts in Chinese:

New York Islanders Chinese fisherman

The NEW YORK TIMES reports how the NHL team has signed on Alex Peng and Justin Wang to do play-by-play and color commentary spoken in the Mandarin language.The Islanders are hoping such a move will help increase their chances to tap into the vast China market - a land of a billion potential fans that has already gotten the interest of the NBA.

China hockey

Islanders owner Charles Wang is a native of the Asian nation, having come to the U.S. when he was only 8. He has recently helped build ice rinks at Chinese schools, in order to help spread the word about the game. Wang has even opened a team office in the city of Harbin.The ultimate goal for the Isles is to have their games broadcast in China. If the league stays with Versus, it figures that Chinese fans would have a better chance to see the NHL than American viewers.

Blog-O-Rama: Hot Baseball Wives And Girlfriends

• THE BIG LEAD knows which players hit one out of the park, as they list their lineup of the hottest baseball wives & girlfriends:

Danielle Gamba Dating Nick Swisher

• Well, that didn’t take long: ARMCHAIR GM finds Terrell Owens dissing his own quarterback again.

• DIE HARD STEEL reports Bill Cowher won’t be coaching again - at least while his daughter’s in high school.

• BUGS AND CRANKS hopes to tempt Roger Clemens’ palate with a little Yankee Squirrel Roast:

Roger Clemens Rocky Squirrel

• THROWING SMOKE makes a run for the border, as the son of New York Islanders coach Ted Nolan was refused entry back into Canada.

• THE FIRE PIT feels as cool as the other side of the pillow in declaring their love for SportsCenter catchphrases.

Ted Nolan Buffalo Firing Came After Allegations He Slept With Dominik Haseks Wife

WILL HBO ASK ISLANDERS’ NOLAN ABOUT HASEK CUCKOLD? Tonight HBO updates an old piece on current New York Islanders Coach Ted Nolan.

The original piece focused on Nolan getting fired by the Buffalo Sabres after the 1997 season, despite leading “a young team of overachievers to the top of their division after only two years at the helm.

Ted Nolan New York Islanders Coach

Nolan has long maintained that he was blackballed from the NHL after his Sabres stint because of racism.But a CBC report has a differing account of why Nolan was canned: “Rumours surfaced that Nolan was drunk at practices and that he was having affairs with players’ wives. Nolan denied all of this and dismissed it as racist taunts.”

Dominik Hasek

The final straw in Buffalo was when, “Buffalo Sabres star goalie, Dominik Hasek … told a local radio show he did not respect his coach.“Translation: Nolan was sleeping with Hasek’s wife.

That also probably explains one of the (unmentioned) reasons why Don Cherry also refutes Nolan’s racism claims.

It will be interesting to see if HBO and/or Deford broaches the subject, since Nolan’s alleged ultimate betrayal of Hasek has long been one of the biggest open secrets in the NHL.